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County: 62% of Kern Covid deaths are associated with state-regulated skilled nursing facilities

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — More than half of Kern’s COVID deaths are associated with state-regulated skilled nursing facilities in the Golden Empire, according to county leaders.

In fact, of the 37 COVID deaths reported across the county, 23, or 62 percent, are associated with state-regulated nursing facilities.

“Kern County residents, loved ones of Kern County residents who were placed in these homes have died,” said Kern County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop. “We have a number of them that are hospitalized, a number of healthcare workers in these facilities who have been exposed. That is the egregiousness of the situation,” Alsop said.

Specifically ,as of May 27th, 54 healthcare workers and 80 residents at the Kingston Healthcare Center have tested positive. 18 residents there have succomed to the virus.

At Valley Convalescent Hospital, 19 healthcare workers and 40 residents tested positive, and four residents passed away.

The The Orchard Post Acute Care Center has one confirmed death.

“We are wrapping all of the resources and personnel and time that the county has around these facilities,” Alsop stated.

Alsop and Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine said there have been points of frustration, especially because the figures received from the state do not match the figures released from some of the facilities.

“Just to show you how confusing this is, Kingston called yesterday. They indicated there were 15 deaths, and then the state sent us a report yesterday that there were 10 deaths,” Constantine said.

“These are people. They aren’t numbers. It is the obligation of kingston to not only care for our most vulnerable population, but also to give us most accurate data,” he continued.

Alsop also said he felt frustration, arguing the state should have done more during the beginning of the outbreak to protect the most vulnerable in the facilities.

“I would have liked to have seen the state of California deploy more resources, put an army of people out throughout the state, that they had the appropriate PPE, hygiene controls, monitoring, and the testing was being done…That should have been done in the early days of this pandemic, and I’m frustrated by that,” he said.

Earlier this month, the state sent down a team of medical professionals to help Kingston meet staffing needs. However, on Wednesday that team left the facility because Kingston officially submitted a plan indicating they will be able to meet staffing needs. Meantime the county continues to send its own medical assistance team to help out several facilities throughout the Golden Empire.

KGET reached out to the CA Dept. of Public health for comment. A representative said the department is processing the request.

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